Tag Archives: Family

Waiting

Often, when people find out that I’m the mother of six children, they will say, “Oh, you must be much more patient than I am!” And I laugh. Sure, I’m more patient than I used to be, but I still don’t consider myself a patient person. And if I had begun to believe those comments about how patient I must be, this waiting season of life is certainly clearing that right up for me!

I’m not wrought with anxiety. I’m not terribly fearful about the future. But I do feel this recurring sense of antsy-ness.

As my husband emails resume after resume and sends one job application after another, I am sharply aware of how unsettled we are. My brain knows that God knows the future and has a good plan already in place for us. My emotions struggle to absorb that truth.

You’d think I’d have this trusting God thing down by now, after all we’ve been through. I suppose I am indeed a slow learner. And that’s frustrating. In the midst of this time of transition and uncertainty, I want to feel a stress-free peace. Instead, I feel on-edge.

I don’t like that I still have to work hard to remember Truth. I don’t like that taking stressful, worrisome thoughts captive is still such a deliberate, difficult discipline. I don’t like that my gut response is, “Yes, Lord, I’ll trust You; just please show me the whole plan now.”  I so want for my first response to be, “Yes, Lord, I’ll trust You.” Period.

I want to wrap this up with some sweet spiritual lesson, maybe a verse from a song or a cute little poem. But we’re still waiting. While we wait, we’re doing the next thing that’s in front of us – the next homeschooling lesson, the next job for the communications department, the next meal, the next load of laundry, the next meeting or phone call, the next night of wrestling boys into bed. All the while, my brain reminds my emotions that God is in charge, that He is good and I can trust Him, that it’s all going to work out for our good.

And as I wait, I hope that, baby-step by baby-step, I am becoming more patient. I believe that, once again, I am learning how to trust. My brain keeps repeating to my stubborn, control-freak emotions that God is using this time for our good and His glory; and bit by bit, that truth is beginning to seep into my soul.

 

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Art Project & What a Thief I Am

A while back, Holly over at Seeking Faithfulness posted this amazing art project she did.  So, of course, I totally stole her idea.

Years ago, I heard Emilie Barnes speak at a women’s conference, and she mentioned that she prayed for her children and grandchildren every day that they would have hearts to love God and hands to serve Him.  Well, I just loved that!  So I stole that idea too.  (I told you, I’m a total thief!)  So I have been praying this for my children for years and years now – that they would have hearts to love and hands to serve.

I still have a couple layers of modge podge left to go, but soon this art project will be hanging on our dining room wall.  Lauren has already called dibs on inheriting it after I die.  (Do the people in your family have that morbid sense of humor too?)

So, how about you?  How are you getting your artistic freak on?  And what have you called dibs on inheriting?

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Homeschool – First Week In The Books

We survived the first week of homeschooling.  I deserve some chocolate. Good chocolate.  Like Ghirardelli. Like Ghirardelli I don’t have to share with anyone else.  Yummmm . . .  Oh, yeah, what was I saying?  Homeschooling.  Yeah, we made it through the first week.

And we didn’t just survive the first week; we had a great week!  Sure, we had our moments — this one hates handwriting, that one hates algebra, this one wants to play computer games instead of reading a book, and that one misses his friends in school.  They acted crazy during our Bible lesson, and I yelled (you know, nothing promotes a love of studying scripture like a crazy, screaming mother).  But, in spite of the yelling during Bible lessons, I’m calling the first week a success!

Since my first child started kindergarten eight years ago, I have been an on-again, off-again homeschooler.  But this is the first time I’ve homeschooled all SIX of them at once.  Though there’s still some tweaking to do, I think we’ve found a daily schedule that works for us.  And as long as I can maintain the self-discipline to stick to the schedule and my daily lesson plans, I think we’ll be golden.

I’ve learned that there are advantages and disadvantages to homeschooling and advantages and disadvantages to having my kids in a school.  But I had sort of forgotten some of the things I absolutely love about homeschooling.  This week, it has been fun to rediscover the things I love.

I love doing The Story of the World history together as a family.

I love that my children are becoming each other’s best friends again.  Would you look at those two brothers?!  LOVE that!

Even though I’m not a math person,  AT ALL,  I love doing algebra with this teenager.  I love having her around all day – and not just because she vacuums the dining room and makes chocolate chip muffins for a mid-morning snack.

I love getting hugs from this second grader in the middle of math and letting him play computer games when he finishes his schoolwork.

I had forgotten how many hours of enjoyment cardboard boxes bring to children!  Textbooks come in cardboard boxes.  We had A LOT of cardboard boxes.  I have loved watching this kindergarten boy cut and draw and tape, making houses for stuffed animals and boats for pirates.  I love that he labeled one box for a naughty stuffed pig – “EVUL PIG,” spelling it all on his own.

I love spontaneous games of Monopoly after they finish their bookwork.  I love that they can wear whatever they want — pajamas, costumes, the jeans I won’t let them wear in public, whatever.  I love that they work at their own pace; and when they finish a subject, they can go on to the next one or play Monopoly or Boggle.  Have I mentioned that I love how my children are rediscovering their friendship with each other?

I love that we don’t have homework consuming our evenings.  I love that I sit around the table sipping coffee with my daughters discussing To Kill A Mockingbird.  I love that I am teaching my kindergarten son how to read, that I get the joy of watching his face light up when he gets everything on his math worksheet correct.  I love that my second grader will remember that Momma taught him how to write in cursive.  I love that I chose the textbooks and curriculum that I thought suits each child well.

It’s very likely we will enroll our children in school again, maybe, probably even next year.  But for now, I am enjoying all the blessings of homeschooling.

Even when it’s a little bit messy and chaotic.

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We Are Invincible — as long as He says we are

Last year when my husband nearly died but didn’t because so many little details fell into place at exactly the right time, it was obvious God spared his life.

Our family doctor just happened to insist on doing an EKG just because my husband was diabetic, even though he didn’t have any signs of heart disease — he wasn’t overweight; he didn’t have high blood pressure; he didn’t have chest pains or swelling or any other heart issues at all.  But the family doctor did an EKG.  And it wasn’t right.  And one thing led to another which led to another, and my husband didn’t die.  But he could have if our family doctor hadn’t done that EKG.

This year we have also seen God intervene in some pretty obvious ways.  Little details lined up and even some weird things fell into place which led to other things falling into place.  And all of it culminated in the trip to Boston and the diagnosis of sarcoidosis instead of ARVD, which leads to treatment, which leads to less heart damage, which leads to a longer, fuller life — we hope.  Or whatever it leads to, at least we have seen God’s hand at work.  He has been so conspicuous throughout it all.

So I was telling a friend today that God has intervened so many times already, showing that it wasn’t Patrick’s time yet.  That comforts me.  I mean, I know God is sovereign.  I grew up in church.  I went to a Christian college.  I’ve done a lot of years of Bible Study Fellowship.  I know God is sovereign.  But it’s still nice when He makes it really evident.

I told my friend that I have been reminded of the Bible accounts of the mobs trying to snag Jesus and kill Him.  But they weren’t successful because it wasn’t His time.  But when it was Jesus’ time, He just gave Himself up to the authorities and didn’t really speak up in His own defense.  It was time.  So He died.

God has made it really clear to me that He didn’t allow Patrick to die because it wasn’t time yet.  He is absolutely in control.  And so, when it is Patrick’s time (if I’m still around), I won’t be wondering what if we had done this or what if the doctors had done that or what if anything.  There will be no what if’s.  I’ll know that it’s his time.  Because God has intervened so obviously when it wasn’t his time.

I’m not trying to be morbid; I find that extremely comforting.  And I hope that whenever I die, my family members are consoled with that truth — God is completely in control, always.

I’m reminded of my sweet 10-year-old daughter Rachel and her prayer for her daddy the first weekend he was in the hospital.  She said, “And, God, I thank you that my daddy is completely invincible until You are ready to take him home.” What a truth!

I’m so thankful that my Father has gone to great lengths to show me His involvement, His sovereignty in our lives.  I’m so grateful He has taken the time to patiently build my faith.  I’m so glad that we’re invincible as long as He says we are.

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Home Is Where The Heart Is

Well, sort of.  I guess we could say my husband’s heart is divided — a little bit of it is in Boston, but the rest of it is back in Florida.

Sorry. Bad heart biopsy joke.

Seriously, though, we’re home.  As my father-in-law stopped at the airport curb to pick us up, our kids rolled out of that van like clowns in a circus car.  They hugged us and hugged us and hugged us.  Then, when I was trying to hug one I hadn’t hugged yet, one son jumped on me and wrapped himself around me like a spider monkey.  While I hugged, he hung on for dear life.  It was a beautiful moment.

If we counted hugs and kisses like we count money, I would be a bagillionaire right about now.  And that would only be counting the hugs and kisses from today.

In between hugs and kisses, I tried to spend a little snippet of time talking to each kid today, getting a pulse on where they are emotionally.  We’d been gone for a week and a half, and my husband was in a hospital of some sort (FL and Boston) for more than three weeks.

These kids finished out the school year, collected awards, put on a program, celebrated our oldest’s 12th birthday, enjoyed more than two weeks of summer vacation, and one daughter has spent hours and hours in rehearsals for a community theater play — all while wondering if their daddy would live, if their daddy would be in the hospital all summer, if we’d make it back for the play, if they’d get to go to the beach at all this summer, if we’d still get to travel to WV and VA this summer to see friends and family, and if they would have to spend weeks and weeks in a hospital some day too (because they all know they saw a cardiologist last year and had all sorts of heart tests).

So right away, I wanted to get a grasp on where each of them are emotionally.  I have a feeling I’ll be having these conversations often in the months to come — just checking in with each one, asking questions, listening, showing empathy and understanding.

Silas, my seven-year-old, was my biggest concern.  Before we left for Boston, he was angry and he wanted us all to know it.  He could easily articulate why he was angry too.  He was mad that his daddy was sick, mad that his daddy had spent so much time in a hospital and was having to go to a different hospital far away, and he was mad that his daddy might die and we couldn’t promise he wouldn’t.  I think the kid had some pretty good reasons to be mad.

While we were gone, he seemed to move from angry to really, really sad.  He told me on the phone that he was not mad any more; he was just really sad that we were still away, really sad that Daddy was still sick.

Tonight, he was just happy — happy that Daddy seems well, happy that Daddy isn’t going back to the hospital, happy that we’re together as a family again.  And so we talked some more — about fun things he did while we were away, about who we saw and what we did in Boston.

Then I said, “Do you have any more questions about Daddy, about Daddy’s health, about Boston?  You can ask me anything.”

He paused, contemplating.  Then he said, “Yeah, there is something I was wondering.  Is Boston spelled with an ‘i-n’or with an ‘o-n’?”

Yeah, a piece of my heart isn’t in Boston with an o-n.  A piece of my heart is with that seven-year-old boy.  It’s good to be home with him.

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Heaven Stands

As I was driving home from the hospital today, I was listening to JJ Heller.  Her song “Your Hands” came on.  So then I was driving down I-4 playing and replaying and replaying this song, singing along with tears streaming down my face.

When my world is shaking

Heaven stands

When my heart is breaking

I never leave Your hands

What a good reminder!  In the past 10 days, my world has been shaking a bit.

My husband continues to have arrythmias, though the new medicine seems to be helping a bit, and now his liver enzymes are elevated and his blood pressure is often lower than we’d like it to be.  We are spending a lot of time waiting to see what the medicine does and monitoring his heart and checking his liver enzyme count every day and trying to keep his blood sugar levels within normal range.

At home, I’m giving hugs and trying to consistently discipline little boys who are pushing the limits to see if the boundaries are the same while Daddy’s in the hospital.  I’m answering questions like, “When will Daddy come home?” and “Do you think Daddy is going to die?” and “What will happen to all of us if he does die?”

Our world is shaking – some moments are little tremors and some moments, like when my husband was being shocked by his defibrillator, feel like giant earthquakes.  But Heaven stands.  Always.

And there have been times in the past 10 days when my heart has been breaking.  Last Tuesday when my husband was having dangerous arrhythmias and I hugged him goodbye so I could rush back for the kids’ end of school program, I thought I might be telling him goodbye for the last time.  My heart was breaking.  When I had to leave my 10 year old daughter sobbing in fear while I rushed my husband to the ER, my heart was breaking.  When my 7 year old asks me, with a voice full of fear, if his daddy will die, my heart breaks.  But I never leave my Father’s hands.  Never.

Those are comforting thoughts for me.

When my world is shaking

Heaven stands

When my heart is breaking

I never leave Your hands

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Going Back To What I Know

This week has been awful.  Absolutely awful.

My husband has a heart condition.  His right ventricle doesn’t like to wait its turn.  It wants to beat early.  So sometimes he has double beats or triple beats.  Sometimes his heart races and his heart rate will go from 79 to 150 in a few seconds.   Sometimes he will be sitting still, doing absolutely nothing, and his heart will go into ventricular tachycardia (vtach).  And if you know anything about hearts and medicine, you’ll know that’s not a good thing.

Because of this heart condition, last year he had a defibrillator implanted.  It’s called an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator).  It saves his life.  If his heart starts into a run of vtach and it lasts for more than 4 seconds, his ICD will work to pace his heart out of vtach.  If the pacing doesn’t work, then the ICD can shock him back to a normal rhythm.

The first line of defense, though, is medicine.  And he was on a great medicine — the first choice for people with his condition.  And for a year and 4 months, his heart responded well to the medication and he did not need the ICD to pace him out of vtach very often, and he never needed the ICD to actually shock him.

But something happened and his heart stopped responding well to the medicine.  So he began having a boatload of crazy heart rhythms.  And then last Saturday, he passed out and had sort of a seizure from a lack of oxygen to his brain because his heart wasn’t pumping blood out of his heart.  So we went to the ER.  They admitted him to the hospital & spent the next couple days letting all of the old medicine get out of his system.  Then on Monday, they discharged him and started him on a new medicine.  His heart had been pretty steady all day Sunday and all day Monday.

We’d been home from the hospital for like 5 minutes when he had a long run of vtach.  The ICD tried to pace him out of it, but it couldn’t.  So it shocked him.  He screamed — a deep from the gut, howl-like, man-scream.  The kids started crying.  I ran to him and helped him sit down.  That shock didn’t get his heart back into rhythm.  So it shocked him again.  It hurt and it scared the bejeebies out of him, out of all of us.  He cried.  The kids cried.  I called 911.

Tuesday morning, it shocked him again.  And again.

He was admitted back into the hospital.  Tuesday afternoon, he was sitting in the bed, not moving, and his heart was just going berserk.  He had runs of vtach.  At times, his heart even started going into ventricular fibrillation.  That’s when it’s just beating so erratically, it’s not effectively pumping blood anywhere.  Each time, his ICD paced him out of it.  But each time, he braced himself for another shock.  He couldn’t seem to have 2 normal heartbeats in a row all day.  It was horrible.  One of the worst days of my life.  We both thought he was going to die.   But he didn’t. I’m thankful for that.

He is still in the hospital.  His doctors want him to have 24 – 48 hours of normal, steady heart rhythms before they discharge him.  In the meantime, they’re tweaking his medicine and we’re waiting on the new drug to build in his system and give him 100% efficacy.

I dont’ know exactly what a panic attack is, but I think I’ve been on the verge a few times this week.  I’ve felt physically suffocated by fear.  I’ve felt like something was choking me, gripping my chest, standing on my lungs.  And when I’ve felt that kind of fear, when I’ve been tempted to just give in to despair and let my mind dwell on all the what-ifs, I have remembered Isaiah 26:3 —

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you

And then I have gone over a mental list of what I know to be true of God.

  1. I know God is sovereign.  Nothing is happening to me right now without His full knowledge and His full permission.
  2. I know God is good.  He can’t be evil or mean-spirited.  He is good.  And if He is sovereignly allowing this to happen to us and He is good, then this will eventually be turned into good.
  3. He promises to work all things out for my good.  I love Him.  I’ve been called according to His purposes.  He will work this out for my ultimate good. (Romans 8:28)
  4. I know God is compassionate.  God came to the earth in the form of a human, Jesus.  He experienced every emotion.  He knows what it’s like to love someone and have that person be sick or die.  He knows what it is like to be exhausted and emotionally and physically spent.  He knows exactly what I’m experiencing and He is compassionate.  He cares.
  5. I know God is working this out for His glory.  (John 9)  He will reveal His glory in this situation.
  6. I know God loves me.  He loves me more than my own earthly parents love me.  He loves me more than I love my children.  He really, really loves me.

I know those things are true.  I know those things about our Father.  And when I fix my mind of those truths, I do receive peace.  It’s not a peace like I’m sitting in a hammock on a beach in the Bahamas, but it’s a peace that really is perfect for me, for now.

When I feel overwhelmed and afraid and dog-tired, I can rehearse these truths in my mind, and I’m OK.  I just have to go back to what I know.

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